Friday, May 04, 2012

House GOP Would Let Domestic Abusers Know Their Victims Called For Help

By Annie-Rose Strasser/Think Progress

The GOP-led House’s version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would not only strip away Senate-passed protections for undocumented, LGBT, and Native American victims, it also contains a dangerous provision that violates an undocumented victim’s confidentiality by allowing immigration officials to speak with, and ask for evidence from, his or her abuser.
Visas offered to undocumented victims of domestic violence are called “U Visas” and the Senate version of the bill expanded the number of U Visas offered to victims. The House bill not only strips out the additional visas, it also contains a new provision enabling government officials to inform “the accused” that their victim blew the whistle on their abuse:
During the adjudication of each petition under this paragraph, an investigative officer from a local service center of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services shall conduct an in-person interview of the alien who filed the petition. The investigative officer may also gather other evidence and interview other witnesses, including the accused United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, if they consent to be interviewed.
Undocumented victims already fear calling the police because they risk deportation in doing so. This portion of the bill adds on another level of fear by alerting their abusers that they’ve sought help — under current law, immigrant victims enjoy a right to confidentiality that would be seriously undermined by this bill. Allowing perpetrators of domestic violence to play any role in the deportation or protection of their victims is a cruel fate, but alerting an abuser to a victim’s complaint adds yet another level of emotional abuse on top of the physical abuse that the victim already faces.
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